Frozen embryo v. state of California

On behalf of an embryo, a pro-life lawyer sues a state-run stem cell research institute.

Published October 15, 2007 6:18PM (EDT)

In federal court tomorrow, trial lawyer Martin Palmer will, as he sees it, defend Mary Scott Doe from enslavement. There's just one teeny-tiny, microscopic problem: Mary is an embryo. Palmer is the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Preborn Children (in other words, the NAAPC -- what a comedian) and is deeply troubled by the state-run California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which funds stem cell research. So, naturally, he's suing.

In 2005, Palmer filed a lawsuit in Riverside, Calif., representing the so-called Mary Scott Doe -- again, a frozen embryo -- against Robert Klein, chairman of CIRM, arguing that embryos deserve equal protection under the law and that stem cell research amounts to slavery. At the time, Palmer told that he chose "Scott" as the embryo's middle name because it is "reminiscent of the Dred Scott case in which the US Supreme Court decided that the black man was not person but property."

A federal judge ruled not that the lawsuit was utterly bonkers, but that it should be tried in either the state's capital or CIRM's hometown of San Francisco; Wired's science blog reports that Palmer will appeal that decision tomorrow in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena. Here's hoping the lawsuit does eventually get time in court and a judge clarifies, as judges have in the past, that a frozen embryo is unequal to a human being -- not to mention that using embryos to potentially treat diseases and save lives is incomparable to enslaving fully realized human beings.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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